Monday, January 07, 2008


Tomorrow is the New Hampshire Primary. The weather is supposed to be an unseasonably balmy 60 degrees. This will facilitate an even greater turn out than expected and that will be helpful to Obama, and on the Republican side, probably not too helpful for Romney.

My prediction on the Democrat side is: Obama - Clinton - Edwards.

On the Republican side I say it will fall out as: McCain - Romney - Giuliani - Huckabee - Paul - Thompson.

I just finished watching Judy Woodruff's report on PBS. Smiling like a Cheshire Cat, she said something like this, and I paraphrase: "there is a lot of exuberance and enthusiasm among the Democrats. There is much less among the Republicans. And perhaps there is a grain of truth in that. The Democrats have a very exciting race among three serious contenders, not to belittle the former Governor of New Mexico, but he's really running for Veep.

And there is a much broader field of Republicans, and among them it is simply a lot harder to make differentiations. I would expect less enthusiasm but a lot more thoughtfulness.

And it is true, in every media blip I've seen on Obama, the man is very sharp, attractive, clear and articulate, but he really isn't saying anything of substance. I think, for the time being, in the newness of enthusiasm for him, driven by momentum out of Iowa, he can get away with that. But even on PBS, voters were interviewed who asked the legitimate question. Change? But where does he stand on global warming? On energy needs? On the war? On taxes? On the economy?

If the candidates were a little more clever they could basically say that essentially voters can look forward to change with ANY candidate running. After all, this is the first election in a long time where a President and his Vice President are not candidates. So whether it is a new Democrat or a new Republican, all of those running would be different and bring about change - though i know that deep down, Obama believes the voters see Hillary as "Clinton the sequel," and a return to something old. But if he wins the day, and it looks like he will, his rallying point of "change" may not hold up.

It is interesting that the Clinton contingent, who are well known for their political savvy, have not determined a way to put the brakes on Obama. It is quite conceivable that Hillary is toast after New Hampshire, as they sail into Michigan and South Carolina, particularly the latter where more than 50% of the Democratic voters are African American.

One last observation on the Democratic side. It is a lot of fun to see Americans enthusiastically supporting an African American for president. It demonstrates a natural color blindness in the voting public. Certainly, we will always have those among us who are bigots, but with not only a Black American running, but a woman, an Hispanic American, an Italo-American running, it is great to see this diversity, and very little negativism about that.

I watched the ABC Republican debate, and I thought ABC did an excellent job. I loved the format. I learned a lot more about the candidates. I know my colleagues on this blog will criticize me for this, but the one guy who I thought came across as likeable, knowledgeable, energetic and presidential was Rudy Giuliani. I'd say he won the debate.

Giuliani, who continues to lead nationally, basically is running on a Reaganesque approach, promising originalist judges (so regardless of his view on abortion, if he keeps his promise on this point, so-called abortion "rights" will be challenged in a Giuliani presidency). His views on taxes, and of course, the war, were all themes I could enthusiastically rally behind.

In each of the other candidates I saw problems. McCain, much more attractive than usual, was factually firm, had excellent positions, but he was much too droll, and uncharitably overplayed his hand with Romney. And were he to end up being the candidate against Obama, it will be 1960 all over again with McCain playing the roll of Richard Nixon.

Romney, I heard was better in the Fox debate that took place yesterday, but was simply hammered hard by his opponents in the ABC debate, and probably because of his unabashed negative ads. Though I liked his answer on the way he took advantage of scale economies to provide health insurance to all citizens of Massachusetts without raising taxes. The scheme sounded clever, but died in the wool conservatives, suspicious of government run anything, probably did not like his approach, and the contingent against him made that pretty clear.

Thompson's droll and cryptic, sarcastic remarks was just not attractive. He's likely to drop out after New Hampshire where he's running below 5%.

Huckabee remains a problem. With the exception of when he spoke very positively about Obama, I wanted to run from the TV with a vomit bag in tow. He was overly patronizing, attempting to woo New Hampshire voters by applauding their love of freedom and liberty. It sounded phony to me. But I thought his positive remarks about Obama were quite clever. It was a back handed compliment to himself - "the people like the idea of someone new bringing in new people to the process..." which is what Huckabee sees himself doing. Clever.

Huckabee still struggles on foreign policy matters. I loved Giuliani's comment in response to another Ron Paul's diatribe that the war with Islamic terrorists is the result of a failed "foreign policy" due to our meddling in the affairs of these jihadists. Giuliani said, correctly, and I paraphrase, "these extremists have attacked westerners in Indonesia, Spain, London, on the sea, elsewhere around the globe as well as in New York City. They are not trying to get even with Americans for putting bases in Saudi Arabia. They simply hate the West and want to kill every westerner they can because of the aberration of their so-called religion." And we can't stand idly by even though we may want to.

I've got to think Giuliani improved his lot, but polls taken immediately after the debate had him dropping into fourth place.

We'll know better tomorrow.


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